"For just over a year now we've noticed a positive trend regarding mental health in the workplace," says Flurina Morell, Health Manager at Helvetia Insurance. "We regularly receive requests from teams asking for special training sessions to prepare for challenging phases." This is new, she continues, and a sign that many managers are open to the options on offer in the area of prevention. She notes that many teams experience stressful phases, and says that some teams are currently dealing with such stress in a way that others could learn from.
Together with Anne Forster, Change & Development Project Manager, Flurina has introduced a number of Business Health opportunities at Helvetia. Their definition of health mirrors that of the WHO: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Seen in this way, wellbeing is thus a prerequisite for good performance.
Independently and working with other members of staff and external institutions, they have developed a range of options to support good physical and mental health, focussing on topics such as learning to overcome stress and boosting resilience. These include on-site courses, weekly mindfulness exercises on group calls and flexible e-learning offers.
"Wellbeing is the basis we need if we are to develop and get the best out of ourselves."
At the moment, they tell us, the ENSA course is particularly popular, with participants learning how to provide mental health first aid in an emergency. "A key thing to note for managing health at work is that courses are not all that's needed; our underlying attitude makes a difference, too. This attitude – that mental health is really important – is demonstrated by the actions of the Executive Management, which sends a clear signal to line managers and employees alike," says Flurina, noting that the increase in requests is a logical consequence of this.
"At Helvetia, we want to be there for our customers when it matters. That means we need to be passionate and enthusiastic about what we do," says Anne. But if we're not in good health ourselves, that's not possible. "Wellbeing is the basis we need if we are to develop and get the best out of ourselves." What we mustn't forget, the Project Manager continues, is that "everyone's mental health is important. We specifically check up on junior staff members and put in place targeted measures to support their mental health."
"Mental health, including mental illness and crises, is part of being human. The question is how Helvetia deals with it as an employer, what support it offers and how it takes on responsibility for employee wellbeing," says Flurina, adding "I've worked in health management for many years and can see exactly what is done in other companies. Compared with other employers in the industry, Helvetia can hold its head high."